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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Baking a Lemon Meringue Pie

I love Lemon Meringue Pie, but I can't always find one that is just the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Truthfully, I often resist buying myself a slice, because I find that too often it simply becomes unbearably sweet. Is mine better? I don't know. Perhaps it's simply that I do not serve myself humongous slices and therefore find it more manageable! You be the judge of the quality, but in the meantime, I'll share with you my own version of a baked Lemon Meringue Pie.

The Crust
There are three phases to baking this pie; the crust, the filling and the meringue. Even though you will probably overlap the three while you are baking it, I will deal with the three separately in the blog so as not to confuse you (or myself!). You will need flour, butter, eggs, salt and ice water for the dough.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour (625 ml) to a mixing bowl. Add 100 g of butter and rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers so that the flour takes on a crumbly appearance.

Add the yolks of two eggs. Keep the whites for the filling.

Now add the ice water a tablespoonful at a time. Mix between additions. You will probably add between 4 and 6 tablespoonfuls of water.

You can stop adding water when the dough comes together and you can roll it into a ball. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow the dough to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface to keep the dough from sticking and roll it out to about 3-5 mm.

My cookie cutter were to small to cut the required size circles and I used a plastic lid to cut the circles I needed.

I pizza cutter made short work of cutting through the dough where the lid failed.

Lay the dough gently in your baking dish. Do not stretch the dough. I am making small tartlets, but you can use the same recipe to make a bog meringue.

Gently work the dough into the corners and break it off over the sharp end of the dish, or make a fluted edge with your fingers if your dish has an overhang on the edge.

Prick the bottoms of the pie with a fork to make tiny holes for the steam to escape. This will prevent the dough from bubbling up. Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for 10-15 minutes. When golden brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack, but leave the crust in the tin. Bring the oven's temperature down to 180°C.

The Filling
Whip the whites from the two eggs, left over from mixing the crust.

Add a tin of condensed milk to a mixing bowl.

Add the grated rind of two small lemons (or one large one) to the condensed milk.

Add the juice of the two lemons to the condensed milk.

Separate four more eggs and put the whites aside in a separate bowl for the meringue. Add the yolks to the condensed milk.

Add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the filling mix.

 Beat the filling mix on high speed with the electric mixer to trap as much air as possible.

Fold the whipped whites from the first two eggs into the mix.

Fill the baked crusts and bake in the cooler oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. You can scoop the meringue on immediately if it is ready and place it back in the oven to bake the meringue. Instructions follow below.

The Meringue
You now have four egg whites left in a bowl. Foam it up and add 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar. This will firm up the meringue.

Add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Whip the egg whites firmly and then add 8 tablespoons of sugar one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions.

You know your meringue is ready when it holds like this.

There are many ways to add meringue. You can spoon it on and pull points out with a the spoon, you can flatten it out and draw swirls in it, or you can pipe it on with a piping bag. Do whatever tickles your fancy, but get your meringue onto the pies and into the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then, leaving the meringues in the oven, turn the top grill of the oven on and brown the meringues. Do not turn your back on the oven at this stage. It should take between 2-5 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.

When you can touch it by hand, carefully lift the crust from the tin and place the pie on a wire rack to cool completely.

Best served cold. Just add friends and family.

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